The Jews and the Cave of Machpela in Hebron

from "The Lubavitcher Rebbe Chumash"

"Abraham rose, and he bowed down to the people of that region, the children of Heth."
(Gen. 23:7)

Although Abraham's prostration was simply a symbol of his gratitude, the Midrash considers it to have been improper. God Himself had promised the land to Abraham, so he should not have shown such subservience to the rulers.

Indeed, this should serve as a ringing lesson concerning the approach we must take to our rights over the Cave of Machpela in Hebron particularly, and the Land of Israel in general. God's promise to give the Land to the Jews is something that must be proudly proclaimed, and not supplanted by subservience and prostration before the nations of the world. 1

"Efron's field in Machpela facing Mamre - the field, the cave within it, and every tree within its perimeter - was confirmed as Abraham's purchase, in full view of the children of Heth and of all who came to the gate of his city." (Gen. 23:17-18)

It is stated in the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 79:7) that there are three places in the land of Israel over which the Jewish people established their ownership incontrovertibly: the Cave of Machpela in Hebron, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and Joseph's tomb in Shechem. The sale of each of these was clearly recorded in the Torah as having been finalized, at full value, without any shadow of dissension.

It is ironic to note that Jewish control over just these three places has become hotly contested in recent times. Darkness and concealment lead to distortion. A nation's lack of confidence and pride in their own validity and identity leads others to doubt it as well. Only if we are unequivocally proud in our identity and convinced of our rights of ownership can we illuminate others. 2


1 Sichot Kodesh 5729, vol. 1, p. 121.
2 Sichot Kodesh 5739, vol. 1, pp. 273-276.

Redesign and implementation - By WEB-ACTION